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Saturday, October 30, 2010

SpinTunes #2 Round 2 Review: Glen Phillips

In general you guys need some serious help with mixing and EQ. A lot of these are painful to listen to. I’m of course not talking to Chris, Ross, Ben,Ryan, Steve or Mitchell. I asked my producer (Ken M) where I could point you guys to help out. This is where he suggested: http://www.recordingwebsite.com/articles/eqprimer.php
There are some gems in this crop! I don’t get the shadow thing, so I refrained from reviewing them, though I have to say the Dave Ritter tune was entertaining!

SpinTunes #2 Round Two: Sequel
Glennny’s judgemet:

17th place 1pt - Ben Walker (When I’m A Hundred And Two) - I searched all over the internet for an excuse to keep you qualified. I really loved this song. “When I’m 64” is one of those profound perfect songs, and far more popular in my world than nearly any song on any Billboard top 20. I’m amazed this song choice DQs you. I’m very sorry. And I’m angry. This sequel is excellent. This is great song on its own. It fits quite nicely as a follow up to the classic. The mix is excellent too. I’ll be keeping this and enjoying this for years. Your vocals and harmonies are superb! Nice groove with all the instruments. I enjoyed the “They’re going to crucify me” John Lennon reference, but I don’t get why it is there. I’m really mad you’re out of the contest. You were certainly a contender; I wanted to hear you compete deep into the competition. Anyway, fantastic job on this track! Sad to see you go. (I had you in 3rd place, were you to qualify)

16th place 2pts - Danny Blackwell (Like A Family) - WTF! This is just mono in my right ear? This dis-allows headphone listening. It’s quiet. You’re not even trying. Did you spend even an hour on this? There is nothing inventive or catchy in this to grab on to. Your voice is nice, your playing is okay. I didn’t like this at all.

15th place 3pts - Edric Haleen (O! Say Can You See?) - I trust this is legal. I trust there was some Star Spangled Banner version in the Top 20. This is painful to listen to. You are an excellent singer. I am impressed with your vocal abilities, and then baffled by your taste. This kind of Grobin schmaltz makes me murderous. I cringe with disgust. I think there’s some genre bias, but there’s plenty of acts in the vocalist section I enjoy. That vibrato reminds me of everyone who ever sang in church. Along with the piano, perhaps this just reminds me of church way too much. I hated church.

14th place 4pts - Inverse T. Clown (Hey Jessie) - The vocals are way too far upfront. Of course who wants to crank the drum machine? Another solo that just mimicks the vocal melody. Yawn. Ooooh edgy swearing! Ughhhhhh Up a step? Seriously? Really?

13th place 5pts - Common Lisp (Science 'In The service Of Beauty') - The mix is terrible. The groove is herky jerky and nearly the opposite of a groove. I do think this is inventive. I enjoyed the variety of timbres that weave in and out of the song. The cadence of the vocal speak-sing is painful. The melody is barely existent. I actually enjoyed the synth solo at 2:24. Although it just outlined the vocal melody. The rhythm guitar sounds like it’s in a different song. “The band” is not playing together. They’re all doing their own thing. Challenge is met well.

12th Place 6pts - Duality (Mars Ain’t The Kind Of Place) - There’s a lady I know, and if I didn’t know her, she’d be the lady I didn’t know. She’s choppin’ Broccoli!!! By that I mean this sounds improvised. This is pleasant background dinner music. However, when paying attention to it, it’s pretty boring. Your playing is nice; the subtle synth additions are tasteful. Your singing is really nice. You’re this low for the writing. It all just feels meandering. Challenge is met well.

11th place 7pts - Brian Gray (One More Cloud) - This mix is really awful. Vocals are way too up front. I hate the drum sound. What’s up with the big 80’s vibe for a 90’s staple? The challenge is met well. Why the dinosaur feet pace for this? The karaoke mix is painful. I like the guitar bend hook.

10th place 8pts - Governing Dynamics (Melt In The Sun) - You guys are killing me with your mixes. Vocals are too fucking loud! Especially when they are pitchy. The lead vocal is solid. That harmony vocal gets props for the effort but, falls a little short. The mix isn’t helping. Nice Dynamics! Hey, this solo is really cool. Then the vocals crap all over it. You’ve written a nice rock song, a rerecording could really rock. Oh shit, you’re responding to “Fake Plastic Trees”? Pretty damn bold! They made the top 20? I trust they did. That song always makes my top 5 of the 90’s decade. The vocals, the mix, the melody hold this down here as it is. I don’t like the lyrics much, but it checks the box.

9th place 9pts - Zarni De Wet (Stacy’s Dad) - The mix needs help. There are a lot of unwanted noises. That synth line is pretty cool, but I can barely hear it. Vocals are way too upfront. Anyway, from last round you were the only act that I didn’t already know and spent a while checking out your online presence. WOW! You are a star in the making. Incredibly talented! Young and at Berkelee, that’s awesome! So, going back to Stacy’s Dad; this is a crappy song based on a crappier song. It’s performed excellent, your voice is amazing. This meets the challenge well. Why do this song? It lifts maybe a little too heavily from the original. I trust you’ll survive. I think you’re a contender; you have the talent for sure. Let’s see how the writing goes! Some tasty lines in the lyrics!

8th place 10pts - Gweebol (Thank You Mr. Postman) - Those weird reverb effects on the shouting backing vocals are awkward. It would be alright with me if I never heard that clapping pattern again. The Tambourine is way too loud, the vocals are too loud, and the piano is too low. This could really stand to have some louder drums, especially kick. I didn’t need the “hope I’m not being to forward”. Motown is all about the rhythm section. The vocals are very nice! I appreciate the melody a lot! Backing vocals are very nice. Challenge is met well.

7th place 11pts - Mitchell Adam Johnson (When Donna Came Back) - Whew! Nice to hear a nice mix! Now I can concentrate on the song. The details are really sweet in this recording. I like this song. I don’t love it. Yes! Tasty sweet solo, love the guitar tone, it was too damn short, but fitting. This is one of the best takes on the challenge. Well done!

6th place 12pts - Charlie McCarron (Over The Bridge) - This is fantastic, this might have been higher on my list were it not for the drums. This is a response sequel to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It sounds like it’s attempting to groove akin to RHCP, but the drums fail you. The bass line is nice and groovy and flea-like. You’re a much better singer than Anthony; I would have guessed you choosing a Smiths song. A sequel to “Ask” would have been my guess. The song is good, the lyrics are good. Nice dynamics! This seems to be rather modeled after “Under”, as well it should. Good job!

5th place 13pts - Steve Durand (Miranda) - It’s just glorious to hear you play your horn. Nice bass line! The acoustic sounds good too. Your vocals are good too! I like the assembly of the band leading to the drum kicking in Chorus. Excellent take on the challenge! The chord change at the end of the chorus is my favorite part. Well done!

4th place 14pts - Rebecca Brickley (Elderly Dream) - I really hate hand claps in that rhythm. It’s so tired. Despite that nitpick, this is awesome. You rose above my distain for GnG ! You did this with super tight guitar playing. It’s in the pocket, and it complements the vocal line. The melody is very good and engaging. The vocals are dynamic and well performed. Good job!

3rd place 15pts - Ryan Ruff Smith (Baby, We’re Through) - I really dig this. The surf guitar sounds great. It’s a nice mix too! Vocals are terrific. The organ/guitar solo is nice. The drums sound really good, but I am TIRED of that beat. Your vocals are really nice, the “sha la la”s are beautiful. I wish the bass was louder, but it’s a nice supportive line. Excellent take on the challenge! Well done!

2nd place 16pts - Ross Durand (Folsom Breakout Blues) - Nailed it! It’s obvious you’re a Veteran of these contests. You “walk the line” perfectly. That is the line of how original to be and how much to quote the prequel. The mix is stellar! Everything is spot on, the vocals, the lyrics, the drums, the bass, the guitar, the solo, I had a tough time deciding my favorite of these top 2 songs. Much of the week I had you in 1st. It’s a tough call. This is a new RD classic for me. Awesome track! You knocked the challenge out of the park!

1st place 17pts - Chris Cogott (Roadward Bound) - Ross was very close behind you, but this ultimately has to take the top spot. Again with my number one pick! It is clear which song this is a sequel too. The guitar playing is amazing. Sure it’s just a bear claw, but perfectly performed. The complimentary guitar is tasteful too. It’s very clear you know how to record; the tambourine is in the right place in both mix and composition. The harmonies are gorgeous; as they should be dare one to write a sequel to S & G. Excellent lyrics, I especially like the “.. nicotine patches” couplet. Super job!


  1. You are simply a fascinating man.

  2. if you only knew the lengths i had to go to to get as far as technology is concerned.granted its not my forte,which is why the first song was taken from a youtube audio,whcih was pretty awful so i installed cubase and did my best to get to grips,to improve this entry.
    i had to do some of the most convoluted experiments to record,files were constantly being corrupted etc so, while i don't refute the fact that the sound quality (mono etc)leaves a lot to be desired.
    so please feel free to call it shit,i honestly wouldn't find that offensive because criticism is a great opportunity to reflect,but it's not neccesary to accuse someone of not spending sufficient time.That is actually quite insulting coz i probably spent more time than i should have banging my head against the brick wall of technology.in order to participate in this competition.
    thanks anyway
    danny blackwell
    Danny Blackwell

  3. Travis Norris (Governing Dynamics)October 30, 2010 at 11:19 PM

    Well, Glenn, my vocals are too fucking loud because it's a songwritng contest and I'd (generally) rather hear that than "I can't hear your lyrics". I do tend to mix vocals a bit lower when I'm not in a songwriting competition.

  4. Danny,

    You're a good singer and a descent player, to me it just doesn't sound like you spent much time on writing the song. I've been there with the the technology woes and headbanging. Sorry to hear you're in that place. Hopefully you've grown past it. It didn't sound like you were in it to win it.

  5. Travis Norris,

    Why Would you mix the vocals too high on purpose for a song writing competition? Especially one where you are required to post your lyrics. I understand erring to the side of louder vocals, but yours were ridiculous. I liked what I think you were going for, I didn't like what you achieved.

  6. Travis Norris (Governing Dynamics)October 31, 2010 at 12:13 PM


    Because lyrics are part of a song, and if a song is being judged I can see points being deducted if you have to look them up, regardless of how convenient it might be to do so. After all I think some of the other judges took points off if they couldn't tell what song was being responded to, and that was also posted on the lyric page.

    Maybe you should listen to it on something other than headphones, for one. I'm not a professional mixer, I don't know any engineers and even if I did they wouldn't owe me any favors to work for free, and frankly I spend more time actually writing the song for a songwriting competition than screwing with the mix. I consider my submissions DEMOS, as do, I think, most of the other competitors. I am but a humble guitarist with Guitar Rig and Sony ACID. I don't even HAVE real mastering software.

    I can tell you when I listen to the song on my (reasonably decent) computer speakers or my car the vocals are, I think, pretty well balanced in the mix. I also notice that you've levelled the complaint of too-loud vocals at several other people, none of which got the same complaint from other judges.

    I think you're vastly overestimating the resources/time/experience/skills most of the competitors have for production concerns, and it's pretty damn frustrating to (apparently?) get so much taken off for things that have little or nothing to do with the actual song.

    That said, I do appreciate your attempts to help us out in that regard and what I saw on that website you posted looks like something I can at least experiment with. But again.. not all of us are armed to the teeth with high-grade DAWs/effects/plugins.

  7. Hey, Glen!

    (I debated with myself a good long time before I finally decided to go ahead and post this. More for your sake, than for mine, really. But I ultimately decided that I really did want to hear more from you. So -- at the risk of forcing you to have to listen to my song again -- I decided to go ahead and post...)

    Clearly, you detest the "Groban-schmaltz" genre -- that's fine. And you hate deliveries that conjure up unpleasant memories of church -- and that's fine, too. But my question (and what I'd like to hear more from you about) is -- what did you think of the _song_?

    It seems that you spent your review discussing the _performance_ of the song. The closest you ever came to commenting on the _lyric_ or on the musical _composition_ was when you termed the song "Groban-schmaltz." But even then, I still couldn't tell whether you were in fact commenting on the _content_ of the song -- or if you were still just bemoaning the _performance_...

    If it helps you, I wouldn't be at all upset if you merely availed yourself of the background information I posted at http://happinessboard.com/O!_Say_Can_You_See.html and the song biography posted at http://happinessboard.com/Biography_of_a_Song_-_OSCYS.html . If these are sufficient to help you respond to my inquiry, and if they allow you to give feedback without actually having to listen again to the song itself, that's just fine with me. (Or, if you're sport enough to go ahead and have another listen -- then bless your heart!)

    I am not at all upset that you didn't enjoy the song. Nor am I perturbed by any of your comments. It's just that oftentimes you can learn more about your craft and your art from _critical_ voices than you can from _appreciative_ voices. And I do quite enjoy learning...



  8. Edric,

    I couldn't agree with you more. The best thing about my 5 years at Song Fight has been the negative criticism. It was shocking to hear at 1st, but it was always based in truth. And that's where the growth as a musician comes from. I tried to be forthright with my genre bias. I think you gathered that. I hope you gathered that I think you're a very talented singer. I don't exactly think there as anything wrong with your performance, I bet it sounds much like you wanted it to.

    I'm impressed you had the gall to do a sequel to the SSB. I suppose the joke is that anyone would ever do that. The lyrics are very straight. You avoid all obvious cliche's which is a big plus. However there's not a line here I find particularly clever, poetic, or biting. Over all the lyrics are adequate. As Frank would say "place a vocal noise here". I would hire you as a performer for a musical, but based on the 2 songs I've heard from you I wouldn't ask you to write anything. Although I'd probably ask for your opinions on harmonizing. I get the impression you know what you're doing.

    So I listened to the song all week, probably had 10 listens in the car on my commute, then I listened on headphones an additional 3 or 4 times while writing the original review. Now an additional 3 times on the family room stereo. I don't mind listening. I still don't like it, but I think it is indeed genre bias. Impressive note hold at the end! So I suppose it's the fashion sense and the sense of style (musically) that I'm clashing with which leaves you low in my rankings. Clearly I am the outlier of the judges when it comes to you. I certainly think you have the potential to impress me, I hope you do so!

    happy Halloween

  9. @Edric

    You're asking a guy who didn't bother to make sure for himself that the song you sequeled was even on the charts. He has made it exceedingly clear that he's here to bitch and moan about production values and not actually judge the songs themselves.

    Believe me, I understand the annoyance of having this person sit there and whine without actually saying WHY he's whining. But giving him the links to the background and biography, though a generous effort, will likely go ignored. After all, for a guy who tells people -- without any real evidence -- that they aren't putting any effort into their songs, he isn't exactly making himself out to be the most in-depth judge in the world, is he?

    Good luck getting a real response, though.

  10. Travis Norris,

    I listen to your songs on every set up at my disposal, several times to get familiar with the song. When I sit down to write the review is where I put the Headphones on. And yes, your song sounds much better in the truck with road noise, and gets annoying on headphones. There are plenty of other competitors here that have clear vocals, and also have nice balances and mixes where I can hear all the instruments.

    Now I absolutely love Radiohead. They're one of my favorite bands of all time. I have every album, bootleg, concert DVD I've ever been able to find. I don't get how anyone could say you sound like Radiohead, but I saw other judges saying such. Come on, go listen to the Bends: LOUD GUITARS! Super compressed vocals! Why they are the best band of the 90's was the way they advanced production.

    I have this complaint about the vocals being too upfront for a large amount of you Spin Tunes folk. It's very true however. Of course that's my opinion. You never hear the winners of song writing competitions with the vocals that far up front.

    I understand your limitations in your studio, but that does not excuse how sloppy the vocals were. That's a performance issue. I've heard enough of you to tell that's it's not even a performance issue, it's an editing issue. You shouldn't have been satisfied with those vocal takes. You should have redone at least the harmony vocals so that the timing and phrasing was tight, and hopefully pitch as well.

    "and it's pretty damn frustrating to (apparently?) get so much taken off for things that have little or nothing to do with the actual song."

    This is the crux of it. I don't mean to offend you. I will never blow smoke up your ass either. The sound of a song has EVERYTHING to do with a song. There's plenty of Lo-Fi that i find brilliant: Bob Dylan, Wolfie, Mathlete, early Bright Eyes demos etc. There's also plenty of excellent production with crap songwriting: 3rd Eye Blind, Match Box 20, etc.
    It's like handing someone a crayon sketch and asking them to judge it as the painting it would be were you to paint it with oils.

    The beat and the groove are incredibly important: "A band is only as good as the drummer".
    You know I have a real book with hundreds of truly classic songs. And for most of them the lyrics have nothing to do with their genius. A good melody with a groovy beat will always beat out good lyrics with incidental accompaniment.

  11. Travis Norris,


    So if you think songwriting is lyrics and suggested melody and accompaniment. Here's what I think of your lyrics:

    I like most of them. Your 2nd verse is wrought with problems. I don't want to hear:
    " I wrote you such pretty words
    Tried to make them real with a melody "
    I call that a meta-song violation: I don't want to hear you singing about the fact that you're singing or that you sang. It comes off as filler. Unnecessary, why mot do something musical instead?

    Also there's the couplet before that:
    "If we don't touch again I might explode..."
    that's great, love the image and emotion of it.
    "Ever upward, defying gravity "
    quasi-poetic drivel, who talks like that? Yoda? Nice image , though a little confusing, you only explode upward? Image seems misplaced.

    However other than the 2nd verse, I really like the lyrics. They are a respectable sequel to FPT.

    Really though, lyrics come about last in what a care about in a song. I went for decades absolutely loving "Tumbling Dice", before I knew the opening line "Women think I'm tasty, they're always trying to waste me..."
    I look up lyrics long after I've been enjoying the beat and the melody and "vibe" of a song.

    Chord pattern: adequate, nice enough to hold interest throughout the song!

    Melody: Nothing special, severely clouded by the performance and mix.

    Anyway Travis, no hard feelings. I'm excited to hear your next entry (especially if I've had any influence on it)

    Good luck!


  12. ITC,

    I thought I as rather clear on why I was whining. I was indeed whining, your production in particular was the worst. It's ridiculous to have that much time, and turn in something that sounds that bad. I also mentioned your chord pattern was cringe worthy with the "up a step" move near the end of your song. Your lyrics and your chord pattern was painfully obvious. It sounds like an unfunny novelty song.

    I put a lot of time into listening to these songs, and it sounds like a lot more time than some of you put into writing and recording them. Of course i have no evidence how long someone spent on a song, but I do know how it sounds to me. If I say it sounds like was whipped up in a jiff, that's just my opinion.

    No hard feelings ITC, I didn't want to piss you off. I just want you to sound better and rite better songs. Feel free to disregard my opinion. Also feel free to ask me to elaborate if you think I've glossed over or missed your genius.



  13. Glenn,

    Thanks for replying. I do appreciate it.

    I have listened to The Bends quite a lot, actually earlier today I mentioned it's on my Top 5 albums of all time in my bio. The song was actually intended to sound like a lost Bends B-side. If you put the vocals aside for just a second and listen to the right channel guitar during the prechoruses I hope to god you're hearing a bit of Johnny Greenwood there (sadly I don't have a Lace Sensor equipped Tele or a Fender 85, but, oh well).

    As for the lyrics... I actually don't like metasongs either, but, seeing how I was referencing a previous song I let it slide. I like the lyric, I like the melody I had to go with it. Mostly I don't like metasongs when they reference the song currently being sung, that line didn't.

    And as for for the other lines:

    "I can't help but feeling
    I could blow through the ceiling
    If I'd just turn and run"

    Hopefully that sounds familiar and explains what I was after.

    As for the overall importance of production vs. writing in Spintunes I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. Your opinions are valid and I respect them. Just not sure I'm going to be able to rise to your high standards of EQ, drums, etc. Heh. I guess my band's level of quality is nil since I don't actually have a drummer. Oh well.

    Here's hoping you find next round's entry more to taste.



  14. Travis,

    So at work I'm currently designing shielding to contain explosions on a dynometer. The verb explode is in all directions. I suppose my pedantic side is showing.
    I always took that stanza as him being trapped, and running away was the only option. I never took the implied direction of the ceiling as important.
    I like your lyrics a little better with the explanation, but I still think that 2nd verse is the weakest part, compared to some really good stuff elsewhere in the song.

    Okay, I get the Johnny influence, so strange to stifle it that low.

    I'm sure your next song ill be the next


  15. @ITC

    While I appreciate your feelings of frustration, I also cannot help but smile at the fact that -- without either of you knowing or being able to control when Travis would ultimately publish the comments -- Glen submitted his response earlier than yours, thus completely precluding the question of whether he responded because of me or because of you...


    I offer you one more link. What you choose to do with it is up to you. If you wish to judge my upcoming Round 3 song with only my other SpinTunes #2 songs as background, then don't follow this link (at least until such time as I'm no longer a competitor in SpinTunes #2). However, if you wish to hear more of what I've written, you can find many, many songs at http://happinessboard.com/Edric_Haleen.html .

    You wrote, "...I wouldn't ask you to write anything." And I don't mind the comment, as I understand that it's based upon just the two songs of mine that you've heard. The thing is? I would argue that I have one of the most disparate collections of song submissions of anyone in Masters of Song Fu or SpinTunes. (I can't speak intelligently about Song Fight or Nür Ein, as I've only been aware of them -- never followed them. I do, however, get the sense that Song Fight doesn't "push" its participants into new and different styles of composition the way that Song Fu and SpinTunes do.)

    While there are many musicians/groups out there in the world which readily invite the description "one-trick pony," that term does not apply so well to me. If you're interested, here is a short "playlist" that might help illustrate the diversity of songs that I've created...

    (piano rock)

    "It All Makes Sense At The End"
    (a tent-revival song with a twist)

    "Robot Monkey 7.2"
    (à la JoCo)

    (a geeky, mathematical audience fav)

    "A Letter To Humanity"
    (an "epic film-score" sound)

    "The Ballad of Procrustes"
    (a story-song from Ancient Greek mythology)

    "The Star"
    (à la Eric Whitacre)

    That's seven, which is probably more than plenty -- particularly if you're interested in keeping your palate clear and have no intention of digging deeper into my musical history. I tried to make sure not to list songs that I'd suspect would make you nauseous. (I'm not trying to convert you to like a kind of music you don't -- I'm merely exploring whether or not I have OTHER songs which you WOULD enjoy...)



  16. Oh, hey, Glenny, didn't see you there.

    You didn't piss me off. You baffle me at times, yes, and you display just about zero tact. But in that regard, I rather look forward to your reviews. As for being clear, let's take a look at that...

    You: The vocals are way too far upfront.

    Me: O.k. Good. You had a complaint, and you clarified it. Let's see if we can keep that up.

    You: Of course who wants to crank the drum machine?

    Me: Well... I don't really have a drum machine, or anything. And, even if I had cranked up the drums, would that have somehow taken my vocals to where they needed to be? Or was that just a sarcastic shot? Beyond that, why is it that my drums bother you so much, but the REST of my synthetic music is passable?

    You: Another solo that just mimicks the vocal melody. Yawn.

    Me: I didn't put a solo in my first round song. So I don't really see how this applies to me, tho it does seem it bored you. I'll keep in mind not to keep doing things I haven't done, in an effort to keep you from yawning.

    You: Ooooh edgy swearing!

    Me: I can only assume, given your general tone about me, that I am correct in reading this as as spoken by a sassy middle-schooler. One who doesn't know exactly how to make fun of something he doesn't perceive as "cool". It says basically nothing, of course, but does continue to lay on the sarcasm.

    You: Ughhhhhh

    Me: Not really sure if this goes after the previous comment or before the next. My bad, I suppose.

    You: Up a step?

    Me: Yes. Is there something you want to say about it, or were you just seeking clarity?

    You: Seriously? Really?

    Me: Seriously/really what? Are you questioning the change in the last chorus, or the entire song?

    As I'm sure you can see, no, your vague stream of complaints are not necessarily clear. Had they been, I likely would not have stated otherwise. To be clear, I don't particularly care, at this point, upon what, if anything, your statements are based. It's entertaining enough as it comes. Just thought I'd point out that when you don't actually say anything, it's not going to do anybody any favors.

    Cheers, indeed

  17. Edric,

    Okay I've listened to all seven of those songs. I have a clearer understanding of where you are coming from. You are a stage singer and you really shine in musicals. So, I don't really care for your serious stuff. The bouncy show tunes, I like a lot! My favorites are "the Ballad of Procrustes" and "Zero Point Nine".

    I'm also wildly impressed at how much you wrote about your lyrics for "O! Say...", but I'm still not buying it as being special.

    So were I to score a musical, yeah I'd give you a call and try to hire you, probably want you to perform in it too. Also next time I need some PR, I can see hiring you to write up some nice things.

    No need to convert me, I'd like to think I like all genres, and seek the raw and the clever within any genre. Yeah, I just get rubbed the wrong way with a lot of this stuff. If it makes any sense I love Rodgers and Hammerstein, or Rodgers and Hart, but I am driven up a wall by Andre Loyd Webber.

    BTW I know what you're up to, the more I listen to you the less I'll be thrown by the genre shock. Very clever Edric, very clever indeed. ;)

  18. Whats this *chopping broccolli* thing???
    And *what* sounded improvised?


  19. ITC,

    You're right. I could be more clear. I see how some of my shorthand might be confusing.

    Who wants to crank the drum machine?- Seems clear to me that your gear is not very fancy. I was implying that you were in a conundrum; your vocals were way too hot, but all you had to balance it with was some underwhelming backing tracks. I think you knew what I meant, but you're deliberately acting thick because your feelings were hurt or something.

    Another Solo that mimics the melody- I should have clarified that i meant another one "on this album". Some of your competitors did the same thing. The solo is very important to me. It's my favorite part in a song, and often I'm the hired gun to fill that role. Alluding to the main melody can be a good thing, but hears the chance to take it emotionally hen the vocals fail you. It's a big bummer when it is a solo by numbers. Although the timbre variation is nice.

  20. This is true, my gear is very non-fancy. A few midi/synth programs and a mic. I do my best as another one of those guys without an in-home studio/engineer combo, only I also get to do it without a band or even real-life instruments. Trying to put balance to it all on a schedule can be quite the test.

    In terms of the solo, it was thrown in because I hadn't done it in a long time and it was...well, just there. It's not in depth and it's pretty short; both legitimate things to consider lackluster.

    Now, when it comes to hurting my feelings? Three of these judges like my stuff well enough that they've done covers of my work, and two of them have ranked my entries in eliminatable positions. It does not break my heart when they do it, it won't upset me when a stranger does.

    I just wish you'd taken the time to be this diplomatic from the start instead of the seemingly angry and dismissive thrashing people seem to receive. What you said right there? That was insightful, helpful, and easy to absorb.

    Thank you, sincerely, for that.

  21. You have redeemed yourself somewhat with your resposes but your original reviews were obviously seen as badly written, and caused offense.
    I think crtiicism of your writing from the writers of the songs seems to have rectified the cosmic balance.

  22. @JoeCovenant

    In re: "Chopping Broccoli"...



    Thank you -- I appreciate you taking the time to respond. (And I'm happy to hear that there are a couple of things that I've written that you like!) Just one more (somewhat lengthy) thought with which I'd like to leave you, in reference to your ending aside:

    "BTW I know what you're up to,
    the more I listen to you the less
    I'll be thrown by the genre shock.
    Very clever Edric, very clever indeed. ;)"

    You have no way of knowing or trusting this, but actually? No. While I did have a secret motive, it was not, in fact, the one you suspected. As veterans of Song Fu and SpinTunes already know -- I write the songs that I want to write. I do not write songs "for" the judges. (In fact, there are times when it seems I write songs in SPITE of the judges! "The Star" is a great example. I KNEW it would keep me out of the finals of SpinTunes #1 -- but I wrote it anyway. And "Sir Isaac Quickmud [No. 138]" is probably the best example of all!)

    Nor was I trolling for information about your proclivities as a judge. It does turn out that I gained some of that information -- but whether I write a song in this next round that you might like (bouncy Richard Rodgers?) or not (schmaltzy Andrew Lloyd Groban?) will be entirely coincidental. (Or -- more accurately put -- your individual reaction will not be a guiding factor in the creation of the song that I'm writing.)

    No -- my secret motive was simply to see if I could, in some small way, help shape the manner in which you deliver your feedback. To see if I could help you to understand that, for many of the people competing in SpinTunes, the song _itself_ is the thing of which they're the most proud, and the thing that has consumed most of their time and attention.

    (And then, as our discussion in the comment section went on, I also thought I'd see if I could get you to rethink making quite so many sweeping, categorical, definitive statements based upon small sample sets of information.)

    Anyway -- that is all. I appreciate your thoughtful comments. And I do not envy you your job. It is no secret to anyone here that I would not, have not, will not volunteer to be a judge for something like this. But I nevertheless LOVE receiving feedback from the judges that DO volunteer -- and the more, the better! Even (and at times, especially) from the ones who don't get or don't like my songs.

    So cheers! And thanks!



  23. What Edric said about him not writing for the judges is true. He told me he thought his song would get him booted well before the deadline in SpinTunes 1 R3.

    He also always votes for Joe.

  24. @ Everyone

    I have a W key that will not register unless I really punch it. My responses have a lot of missing Ws.

    @ Edric- ".....the song itself...."

    What exactly does that mean?

    Legally it's 7 seconds of a recording, or 3 notes in a row of the same rhythm, melody, and beat. It has really very little to do with lyrics (legally).

    I contend lyrics are the least important ingredient to what makes a song a song. I love poetry, and rock lyrics are usually pretty awful poetry. It's a different paradigm.

    Melody, chord pattern, beat, (and the recording in an online contest based on mp3s) are far more important.

    I listen to a lot of jazz (I named my son Django after all). I almost always prefer an instrumental version to something. When you hear "So What" do you really need someone to sing the line "...So What!", it is clear with the melody why the song is called "So What". I realize they covered that song with vocals, which I think proves my point.

  25. "Anonymous said...

    You have redeemed yourself somewhat with your responses but your original reviews were obviously seen as badly written, and caused offense.
    I think criticism of your writing from the writers of the songs seems to have rectified the cosmic balance."

    Were they really poorly written? If they sparked conversation, they did their job. If they caused offense that is good. I was offended by a lot of what I was hearing. It's not personal. The fact that you are all writing and recording and submitting songs, means we have a world in common.

    I'm a judge, you guys are contestants, my goal is to let you know exactly why you rank where you rank with me. If anyone is offended, then they should thicken up their skin, especially if they are submitting their art in a contest subject to scrutiny.
    I've been on the receiving end of very harsh criticism. It only stings if it is true, in my experience. It almost always is true. It's what I appreciate the most. It ultimately makes me a better musician and writer.

    I don't think I've been really criticized. Clarification requests isn't exactly criticism. Requests for clarification are always welcome.

    I had assumed Niveous warned Spin about what he was in for with me as a judge. I hope there's no buyers remorse.

    I look forward to the next Fight!.... I mean Album!

  26. "I had assumed Niveous warned Spin about what he was in for with me as a judge. I hope there's no buyers remorse."

    lol no I didn't speak to Niv about you. Just liked what you brought to Song Fight & Nur Ein...seen you review a few things in the forum over time as well. No buyers remorse.

  27. @Glen

    "What exactly does 'the song itself' mean?"

    It was my way of trying to differentiate between the composition and the production. For many of the people here -- handcuffed as they may be by time constraints or equipment (or lack thereof?) or experience or know-how -- the composition is tantamount. Yes -- production is certainly a factor as well. But if all anyone ever did was to beat up on JoAnn (who at this point plays not much more than kazoo) for her production values, that wouldn't really be of much help to her. Similarly, focusing EXCLUSIVELY on production values -- save for the lyrics or melodies that you happen to like -- isn't terribly constructive to an artist like Danny, who's already FOUGHT with the technology, or someone who's scratching together whatever they can on a shoestring budget or in small windows of opportunity to try to realize their musical visions as best they can.

    These are not professional songwriters here. If they were, the feel of the competition and the expectations from the judges would be wholly different. There's nothing wrong with pointing out technical deficiencies. There's nothing wrong with holding everyone to a high standard of excellence in ALL aspects of a recording. But doing it constructively and in a balanced manner is arguably more constructive (if perhaps less fun, in a "lick-your-lips-and-sharpen-your-critic's-pencil" kind of a way) than just tearing down a participant on the strength of your opinions, no matter how informed or cogent they may be.

    Also -- I love that you made explicit that you "contend lyrics are the least important ingredient to what makes a song a song." That marks clearly a fundamental difference between you and I. You've already observed that I write, essentially, theatre songs. Songs that tell a story. Songs that showcase a character. Songs that move from one emotional place to another. And that's the difference between pop music and theatre songs. Pop music attempts to establish an atmosphere, and then sustain that atmosphere throughout the duration of the song. The lyrics do, indeed, become secondary to the music. Or the drums. Or the guitars. Or whatever is driving the song. In theatre songs, it's quite a different thing. In musical theatre, lyrics are the MOST important part of the song. (This is why so much attention is paid to rhyme. Perfect rhymes add emphasis to important words, and help convey a lyric to the listener. Near rhymes "muddy" the lyric, interfere with the listener's ability to fluidly comprehend what' going on in the song, and degrade the song's message. This is also why so much attention is paid to syntax. And this is why songs often fly or fail based on lyric choices which often seem trivially small.

    Music, then, serves to support and enhance (or sometimes provide counterpoint to) the lyrics in these songs. (Sondheim explains this quite elegantly and eloquently in his book, "Finishing The Hat.") Lyrics are not poems. Poems can exist on their own. And poems are often diminished when set to music. Lyrics, on the other hand, lose much or most of their magic as soon as they're separated from the music upon which they've been set.

    Again -- I'm not trying to convert you. Just trying to explicate that your comments are being made from your own particular perspective. Which is fine. But I think it serves you well to remember that there are many other perspectives as well. Yes -- we've "hired" you to hear your perspectives. But I think your perspectives would be embraced more and criticized less were they, as Inverse expressed, delivered with a little more tact, and without the tacit attitude that your particular perspective is meter stick sufficient to justify bashing musicians soundly when they don't measure up...



  28. Edric,

    I agree with everything you said. There are other judges who will put lyrics first and disregard performance and production. To win this contest one will need to impress the aggregate of the judges. I hope that I am being clear with what my perspective is.

    The shoe string budget argument is rather weak. I point you to "Brownie Points" From Nur Ein II. Check out Thank Glenny for the Frisbee. This was done with Magix ($70 software at Fry's). A Shure58 mic ($100 anywhere). Cheap Yamaha guitars. We ultimately lost in Nur Ein II, and talking to the judges, they were sick of my damn fake drums. I don't blame them. However you can get much better results that what I'm hearing, with dirt poor equipment.
    Damn it, link is no longer working. You should write your song anyway, I'll rustle it up after your deadline.

    How do you judge Apples vs Oranges vs Pears? 1st off they all have to be ripe and delicious. Then it's a matter of taste.

    BTW your mix is fine, and genre appropriate, though slightly loud in the vocals for my liking even in the genre.

    Of course there are many other perspectives, hence many other judges.

    Music is art and art is emotional patterns of matter. I'm surprised you don't want my gut reactions.



  29. I still don't get the brocolli remark.
    and also see its not been answered.
    (NO Edric.... Im not looking at youtube!)
    ;' )
    You didn;t make the comment!

  30. Sorry, I thought Edric gave you the link and looked at You tube by now. There's a Dana Carvey bit, where he's a song writer, and the record executive want to hear a sample from the album. He of course has written nothing and goes to the piano and improvises. The lyrics are " there's a lady I know, and if I didn't know her, she'd be the lady I didn't know......." it builds into "She's choppin Brocoli!" It's hilarious, but it's all about the delivery. You should really check out the you tube link.
    All I meant was, it sounded like you were improvising on the spot, it was pretty, but it was a bit meandering. Mostly Dana was emulating a genre similar to your song, and thus the reminding of it.

    You don't like You Tube?

  31. The story behind this song is somewhat more complicated than an SNL skit, as are the chord progressions and the motivation behind their choice.

    Glen, with your comments so far in this and in the last review, you've hit in the park but missed the mark - at least for me. But there has been much in spirit that I agreed with, if not in tone. Curious, because this was never true over at Song Fight/NurEin where I've pretty much nodded at something in everyone's reviews.

    Although a comparison to a bit comedy part bothered me, I s'pose it is really our production we should look at. As these songs really have Nothing At All In Common.. it must have been a heavy production fail indeed!


    ps. I suppose I should be somewhat happy though; as I have been criticized as sounding too Debussy or too Tori and completely unable to bring a Rock Ballad. I supposed I have finally grabbed a brass ring of sorts.